Leslie Knope and me

For the past year, I’ve felt a lot like Leslie Knope, post-Harvest Festival.

I’d like to assume you all watched Parks and Recreation, one of my top 10 favorite sitcoms of all time. If you don’t, you need to get on that immediately (just skip season one). In the meantime, I’ll break it down for you: Leslie Knope, the plucky assistant director of parks and recreation in Pawnee, Ind., planned the Harvest Festival to help her city recover from financial trouble. The festival was a hit, but Leslie panicked soon after because she didn’t know how she could follow up such a successful project.

I know Leslie’s anguish. I spent five years building a career as a Louisville food writer right on this blog.  Then, I got the chance to write a book that focused on the topics about which I cared the most: frugal, local eating. Louisville Diners was like my graduate thesis, my chance to showcase a segment of this city’s food scene. I was thrilled when it came out last March, but with the publication came a new worry: What comes next? Specifically:

  • Would I write another book? If so, about what?
  • What else could I do with Ashlee Eats?
  • There are so many good food bloggers and Instagrammers and whatnot documenting the Louisville restaurant scene, was my voice even necessary or interesting anymore?
  • Should I just focus on my day job and wrap up this blog?

On Parks and Rec, Ron ended up locking Leslie in a closet to force her to sleep and shut down her brain. The next day, she had ideas out the wazoo thanks to that mental reset. I don’t have any problems getting enough rest (napping is one of my favorite hobbies), but after a year of worrying, I’ve decided I need my own reset.

I’ve grown a lot since I started the blog in 2010, and so has Louisville. I started the blog to chronicle my adventures in frugal eating. Now, it’s time to think bigger. It’s time to be loud. And it’s time to dismantle my own insecurities about living up to the unreal expectations I loaded onto my own back.

Like Leslie Knope, I love my city. But we both know that our towns aren’t perfect. I want to do more to make Louisville a better place. I want to continue to explore the corners of our city that don’t get nearly enough attention when you see write-ups about the joys of Louisville’s eats. I want get readers out of their neighborhood comfort zones in search of a good meal. I want to talk about what we as a community can do to address the fact that 53,400 Kentuckians have to visit a food bank each week. I want to highlight the wonderful diversity in our city’s food scene that you can access for less than 10 bucks. I want to support worthwhile charities. I want to show this city some love but hold folks accountable for the problems in getting people access to healthful food. And I just want to eat and write about it.

After the Harvest Festival, Leslie ended up having a full career that maybe even culminated with the presidency (curse you, ambiguous ending). I’m not running for office, but I can see that my career is just ramping up. I just have to take a note from Leslie and Ron and get out of my own way.

 

Come to the Moth tonight, and bring some mittens, too

I’ve been involved with Moth StorySLAM events at Headliners Music Hall for about four years, and one thing that’s kept me around is the sense of community among the storytellers and attendees. There are the folks I can always count on seeing on the last Tuesday of every month, the newbies who leave gushing about how much fun they’ve had, and the storytellers who impress me with their honesty and bravery to tell their own stories to a room full of strangers.

Tonight, it’s time for our Moth family to come together and give back. We’re collecting clean, gently used (or new!) children’s clothing for the JCPS Clothing Assistance Program. Here’s a blurb about the program, courtesy of Louisville Moth producer Tara Anderson:

The CAP helps make sure families get clothing they need, especially during the cold winter months. Sweaters, pants, hats and gloves are especially appreciated.

Worthy cause, yes? Then bring that sweater that’s two sizes too small and join me tonight for some good stories. I’ll be holding down the mic as host, so I’d love to see you there.


The Moth StorySLAM

When: Tonight, Dec. 29; doors open at 7 p.m., stories begin at 8 p.m.

Where: Headliners Music Hall, 1386 Lexington Road, Louisville

Cost: $8

For more info: The Moth website

 

A few things to remember before Christmas

*dusts off blog*

*cracks knuckles*

*girds loins*

Christmas is less than 72 hours away. Like most of you guys, I’m trying to fit in last-minute shopping, baking and a little bit of blogging, too. There’s no time for dilly-dally, so let’s dive into a few items to keep in mind as we wait for Santa to arrive.

  • I wrote a piece for WFPL about how to outsource your Christmas cooking. TL;DR – Order meals and desserts from your favorite bakeries and delis, make reservations or eat a little Chinese for Christmas dinner.
  • Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen on West Broadway offers a free meal for those in need on Christmas. Unfortunately, the restaurant needs donations and volunteers to keep this seven-year tradition alive, according to WAVE. Big Momma’s is in my book, Louisville Diners, and the restaurant is run by a great family with big hearts. Consider lending a hand or a couple of bucks for their Christmas dinner.
  • And speaking of my book, Louisville Diners, it would make a great stocking stuffer. Just sayin.  

OK, this was a nice break. But onward with Christmas shenanigans.

Guest Post: Support the Food Literacy Project in Brackets for Good fundraiser

Blogger’s Note: The Food Literacy Project is a non-profit educational agency that brings “urban communities in Louisville back to the roots of their food” through hands-on programming at Oxmoor Farm. My buddy Adam Price is the treasurer and president-elect of the Food Literacy Project’s board of directors. Adam’s a huge advocate of the Food Literacy Project, and he wants to let Ashlee Eats readers know about the project’s participation in a local fundraising competition. Now, let me step back and let Adam take the mic.

foodliteracy2

I’ll never forget that moment. The Food Literacy Project had just blown past its goal of meeting a $5,000 challenge grant from Kosair Charities after a raucous 20-minute reverse auction during our major fundraising event last September, the Field-to-Fork Dinner.

In retrospect, it wasn’t surprising. We’d had the Mayor speak, shown an incredibly impactful short video of our work with area children, and had a young man who’d participated the last two years say a few words about his experience to a packed room of 150 generous foodies. Then, as I struggled to keep up with calling out the flood of bid cards during the auction, Malcolm ran all around the room pointing out other cards I hadn’t noticed and earnestly thanking these generous donors for their support. When we learned that we’d raised more than $20,000, I made a beeline straight to him and his mother to say that he should be very proud of the role he played ensuring that his experience will be available to thousands of kids next year and into the future.

The Food Literacy Project does great work improving the lives of kids in our city by teaching them about fresh food, how to cook and eat it, and the benefits of getting your hands dirty growing it.

As you may have heard in a recent WFPL news story, the pilot year of the Farm to Family initiative at Hazelwood and Wellington Elementary Schools (made possible through a partnership with KentuckyOne Health, the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health) is showing promising results. Our intervention nearly doubled the number of kids who reported eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, from 23 percent to 41 percent. We also increased the number of kids who have eaten a vegetable they grew themselves from 59 percent to 91 percent and who know a healthy recipe from 63 percent to 93 percent. These are staggeringly successful numbers that are undoubtedly changing the lives of children and their families in our great city. More importantly, we’re empowering a new generation of kids, like Malcolm, by giving them a skill set that goes far beyond growing vegetables and cooking them.

Brackets for Good is a fun new fundraising competition in its first year in Louisville. It started when a group of people in Indianapolis realized they knew only a few non-profits to which they could donate. They decided to play on their city’s love of basketball and created a unique way for deserving programs to “compete” to raise funds, while also making it easy to learn about organizations doing good work in the area.

(Donors visit the Louisville Brackets for Good page, select the organization they want to support, and enter a points/dollar value for a donation. The winning organization receives an extra $10,000.)

The Food Literacy Project is honored to have been selected to participate in this year’s event. Even though we’re a lot smaller than some of the other organizations taking part, we’re confident that the more people hear about us, the more they want to support what we do.

So we’re planning to win the whole thing.

As a sign of our confidence, the Board of Directors has committed to dropping a $1,000 money bomb on the first day of round three of the tournament, which is this Saturday, March 14. But we need your help more than ever to make sure we win the second round. Please consider going to the Brackets for Good website to learn more about us and the other fine organizations taking part. Also please take a moment to “like” us on Facebook and to follow us on Twitter and Instagram so you can know about all the ways we’re inspiring a new generation to build healthy relationships with food, farming, and the land.

As for that moment I’ll never forget, it was the look of pride and achievement on Malcolm’s face when he realized what he’d helped accomplish. We at the Food Literacy Project are fond of saying that while we grow vegetables on the farm, it’s thoughtful, intelligent, caring, (and, yes) healthy kids like Malcolm that are the real fruits of our labor.

Bits and Pieces: City Cafe, Panda Express and other Louisville food news from the web, 11.14.12

Closings

  • The Pub at Fourth Street Live closed this week amid legal action with the district’s developer, The Cordish Cos. (Business First of Louisville)
  • City Cafe is closing its location in Mid City Mall next to Baxter Avenue Filmworks. The remaining two locations on West Broadway and South Preston Street (in the University of Louisville Health Sciences Center) will stay open. (City Cafe Facebook page)

News

  • Dollar General has applied for malt liquor and beer licenses for its Louisville locations. I love a deal, but this sounds no good for the community. (WDRB)

Openings

Foxhollow Farm’s 5th Annual Fall Festival takes place this weekend

Farms warm this suburban woman’s heart.

I love visiting farms. I get to see the origins of the foods that end up in my belly. It’s like a grown-up field trip.

This weekend, Foxhollow Farm in Crestwood will have its fifth annual Fall Festival. The event includes games, live bluegrass music, pick-your-own pumpkin, hay rides, and food from the following businesses:

    • Wiltshire
    • Rye
    • Grind
    • Gelato Gilberto
    • Cellar Door Chocolates
    • Ears What’s Poppin’ Popcorn
    • Heine Brothers Coffee

 

Foxhollow 5th Annual Fall Festival, 8905 Highway 329, Crestwood, Ky.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 11 a.m. — 6 p.m.

Cost: $5/car for parking

For more information: Foxhollow.com

Louisville food trucks gathering for two events this month

Remember when there were, like, no food trucks in town?

There are at least a dozen food trucks with offerings span the food spectrum. And the good news is they play nice and have events together.

Here are a couple of food truck round-ups taking place this month during which you can sample a variety of Louisville’s best food from the side of a truck.

  • DisTRUCKtion at Apocalypse Brew Works: Lil Cheezers, Holy Molé, Grind, Bluegrass Brick Oven Pizza, French Indo-Canada and Annie May’s Sweet Cafe will each create a new dish just for this event.
    • When: Friday, Oct. 19, 5 — 10 p.m.
    • Where: Apocalypse Brew Works, 1612 Mellwood Ave., Louisville
    • Cost: Free admission
    • For more information: Facebook event page
  • Trucktober Fest: A two-day event featuring food trucks, a battle of the bands, trick-or-treating for kids, and a costume contest
    • When: Friday, Oct. 26, 5 — 11 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 27, 11 a.m. — 11 p.m.
    • Where: Iroquois Park, 5216 New Cut Road, Louisville
    • Cost: Free admission with a canned good for Southwest Ministries
    • For more information: Facebook event page

Don’t waste a failed bread recipe. Transform it in these 4 ways.

It’s easy to save a little money if you are willing to look at something with new eyes.

Take, for instance, when you’re trying to bake bread or a pastry.

I’m more of a cook than a baker, so a lot of my attempts at baking have ended with a something stale and hard. But I feel like I’m dumping greenbacks into the garbage can if I throw away my bricks of bread. Instead, I transform it into something new.

Here are four ways you can save bad bread:

Bread pudding with a bourbon-spiked glaze.
  1. Bread pudding. My mom made my dad a Sock-It-To-Me Cake, but she forgot the sour cream, a key ingredient. She was about to throw the whole cake away and make another. I rescued the cake and used it as the base of a bread pudding. Though I came up with a bread pudding based on several recipes, it was very similar to this Kentucky recipe.
  2. Stuffing. I don’t want to talk about the time I tried to make biscuits. It was a disaster. But I got some good stuffing from it, so everyone was a winner.
  3. Croutons. If you have some stale bread, or a really bad hunk of a loaf that just didn’t quite turn into the bread you wanted it to be, slice it into squares, toss with some olive oil and Italian seasoning, and bake for about 10 minutes or until crunchy. Thank me later.
  4. French toast. When I was a kid, I remember watching an episode of The Babysitters’ Club in which a kid spilled some milk on the counter. A teenage boy trying out to be in the club cracked an egg on top of the milk, dipped some slices of bread in the mess, and fried it on a griddle. That kid was on to something. This is perfect for that half loaf of bread you didn’t get to fast enough.

 

What do you do with bad bread?

Bourbon Barrel Foods profiled on foodie website The Kitchn

A local food company got a nice profile on one of my favorite websites.
The Kitchn, a great blog for everything food, recently highlighted Bourbon Barrel Foods in its Marketplace feature.
Bourbon Barrel Foods is a small artisan company based here in Louisville. Here’s more:

They don’t make bourbon; rather,they repurpose bourbon barrels to craft small batches of bourbon-infused gourmet sauces and spices, like Worcestershire and soy sauce, sorghum vinaigrettes, even barrel-smoked paprika and sea salt.

This puts me in the mood for some Bourbon Barrel sorghum. Mmmmm.

Bacon, lime and other popcorn innovations – which would you choose?

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Take a look at the creation I spotted at my friendly neighborhood Kroger.
Bacon has entered the popcorn arena.
By chance, I discovered lime popcorn earlier that same day. A coworker let me try some. It was like the popcorn had a baby with a margarita. DELISH.
I’m used to what I call “normal” popcorn flavors such as cheddar or kettle corn (my personal fav). Buy discovering lime AND bacon popcorn in just one day was too much for my mind to absorb.
What other flavors of popcorn are good additions to the movie-snack line up?